Tech Talent: This Junior Programmer Doesn’t Clown Around When It Comes to Code

Aaron Brooks has been surrounded by computers his whole life, thanks to his father who was a big technology enthusiast. However, after a quick foray into clown college at the age of 15 and a few semesters at Georgia State University, Brooks made his way back into tech by enrolling in Thinkful’s Full Stack Flex Program.

His projects at Thinkful focused on problems he had himself — Bring-A-Dish helps find recipes based on what’s in your pantry, MyWallet keeps track on what’s in your wallet in case you lose it, and Howdy Neighbor connects DIYers with contractors for advice. Brooks is also looking to complement his front-end developer skills by learning UI and design concepts. He hopes these will lead to more user-friendly projects.

Check out how this international award-winning balloon artist (yes, you read that right!) stays updated on the latest technology and what’s he’s looking for in a company.

Why the interest in the technology field?

My father was big into computers growing up, and I just sort of picked it up from him. After years of helping my grandmother and her friends with their computers, I am finally able to use my computer to make applications that can help people. The technology field is just so broad and I love the idea that any field could be improved with the right piece of software. Additionally, my time with my current company has led me to work hands-on with many different tech clients, seeing how maneuverable a company can be while still staying focused on the end product.

What tech projects have you worked on?

While I was enrolled at Thinkful, I was able to create projects based around some of my favorite hobbies. I made Bring-A-Dish, which I was inspired to make from my love of cooking, as well as having three potlucks in a row. It uses the Spoonacular API’s search capabilities to find recipes based off what ingredients you have in your kitchen.

I created Howdy Neighbor based off of my love for DIY and building. It is an online forum MERN stack application that allows home DIY-ers to connect with career professionals to ask questions and get advice. Think Stack Overflow for fixing your toilet. MyWallet is an application to keep track of the items in your wallet, which I created inspired by my love of not freaking out after I lose my wallet. It uses Node.js and Express on the backend and MongoDB as the data store. In addition to creating these projects, I work with tech companies from the customer support side and help establish new customer experience initiatives.

What tech/tools are essential to you as a developer?

Chrome Developer Tools is great for troubleshooting, for investigating other sites and how they are structured. I learn a lot by reading the code of other sites. As far as task management, I use Trello for simple to-do lists and keeping myself organized across all of my devices. Besides that, there’s nothing better than find a good Stack Overflow answer that not just answers the question, but explains why and how an issue occurs.

How do you stay on top of emerging trends?

I listen to a lot of podcasts while I am out and about with my dog, so that is my usual source of information. I am partial to JavaScript Jabber now, but starting out, I really liked CodeNewbie. It made me get excited about learning to code and inspired about the different projects that I could work on. Besides podcasts, I love FunFunFunction on Youtube. His quote, ‘Less code equals less bugs,’ transformed the way that I look at code and inspired how I write code today. He has a great series of test driven development and how that applies to any level of coding. He is passionate about teaching code, and it definitely comes across in his videos.

What are your best technical or creative skills?

I think that my determination has been my best asset during my coding career. I don’t like to let my let problems sit, and I am not afraid to have something not work. I hope I’m not alone in saying that most things don’t work for me the first time. But it’s the ability to keep trying and testing new solutions that allows me to overcome my obstacles and learn from my mistakes

What’s next on your list to learn?

I would love to expand my skills with UI design, and how I can create my front-end to be more user-friendly. Design has always interested me, so I have been studying some basic design concepts like color theory. I am definitely interested in learning a solid scripting language like Python, in a hope to be able to work on some automation projects.

Are you interested in working for a startup, mid-sized company, or a corporate giant?

I find that any level of company has its pros and cons, whether it’s the excitement of being in a startup or the mentor opportunities that come from a corporate giant. However, I have no preference on company size as long as there is a solid company culture. I am a very positive, fun, and unique individual, and I hope to find an opportunity that supports that. If the culture is a fit, I’m down for whatever opportunity presents itself.

Interested in looking at Aaron’s credentials? Here you go! PortfolioLinkedIn, and Github.